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Mark in Minnesota

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Look, all I'm saying is that even well-founded suspicion shouldn't be the end of dialogue. At the back of all this is, presumably, an argument that I (and other forum members) should be writing to lawmakers asking them to oppose this -- but if the basic problem here is that we're afraid the documentation requirements will be too burdensome for small farmers, I'd much rather be writing my lawmakers asking them to support a specific amendment to the bill which fixes that.

Scottie's concerns about the government asking for standardization of procedures used by factory farms are, in my mind, more of the same: fighting a tide. The reason the government is making laws oriented toward factory farms is that factory farms need to be more standardized if we're going to have any hope of making the food supply safer while keeping it relatively cheap. There's just no stopping the government from more closely scrutinizing the supply chain for things like food and medicine, just like there was really no stopping them from making changes to rules for business, accounting, and IT after the collapse of Enron. Within the problem space there's always going to be room for good law and bad law -- it's just my feeling that it's counterproductive to oppose bad law without keeping the discussion focused on better alternatives.

I also suspect that close line-by-line scrutiny of S. 510 will raise many similar objections to what's discussed in HR. 875. Note the following text in 510:


‘(3) CONTENT- The proposed rulemaking under paragraph (1) shall--

‘(A) include, with respect to growing, harvesting, sorting, and storage operations, minimum standards related to soil amendments, hygiene, packaging, temperature controls, animal encroachment, and water; and"

Isn't this the same win for factory farms that we're supposed to be objecting to in HR 875?
Post Thu Mar 12, 2009 9:58 am
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Thanks Mark I did not see that in my reading of S. 510 while I am still very wary S. 510 language is no where near the level as H.R. 875

S. 510

‘(3) CONTENT- The proposed rulemaking under paragraph (1) shall--

‘(A) include, with respect to growing, harvesting, sorting, and storage operations, minimum standards related to soil amendments, hygiene, packaging, temperature controls, animal encroachment, and water; and

(B) consider hazards that occur naturally, may be unintentionally introduced, or may be intentionally introduced, including by acts of terrorism.


(1) consider all relevant hazards, including those occurring naturally, and those that may be unintentionally or intentionally introduced;

(2) require each food production facility to have a written food safety plan that describes the likely hazards and preventive controls implemented to address those hazards;

(3) include, with respect to growing, harvesting, sorting, and storage operations, minimum standards related to fertilizer use, nutrients, hygiene, packaging, temperature controls, animal encroachment, and water;

(4) include, with respect to animals raised for food, minimum standards related to the animal's health, feed, and environment which bear on the safety of food for human consumption;

(5) provide a reasonable period of time for compliance, taking into account the needs of small businesses for additional time to comply;

(6) provide for coordination of education and enforcement activities by State and local officials, as designated by the Governors of the respective States; and

(7) include a description of the variance process under subsection (d) and the types of permissible variances which the Administrator may grant under such process.

While both raise flags on federal regulations on fertilizers (I am sure it was the Agro-lobby that wanted the word fertilizer instead of soil amendments which could encompass things beyond fertilizer) the house bill goes more into animal feed, health and environment which could be a major blow to organic farmers.

A food safety bill is going to be passed. I do think its worth the effort to make sure congress ends up using the most local, small, organic farm and state right friendly language as possible.
Post Thu Mar 12, 2009 10:29 am
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the mean
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Embryo wrote:
Scottie wrote:

Embryo: Do you have no problem with the Federal Gov't stepping into intrastate commerce?

I do have a problem with it insofar as it is unconstitutional.

The Federal Government has basically been involved in "intrastate commerce" since the early 20th century.

In fact, I find the concept of "intrastate commerce" to pretty much be non-existent in 2009.
Post Thu Mar 12, 2009 10:39 am
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Mark in Minnesota

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Scottie wrote:
A food safety bill is going to be passed. I do think its worth the effort to make sure congress ends up using the most local, small, organic farm and state right friendly language as possible.

There's been a statement of values (organic farms = good, locally sourced food = good) in this whole discussion that doesn't directly follow from the food safety issue. The values are fine to have, but their application in this context is essentially not constructive.

(edit below)

I'd like to add: I think at least part of what's going on here is a cultural gap between the people writing the laws/rules and the people commenting on them. Both S. 510 and H.R. 875 have language strongly rooted in "process quality" language that's all over the large business world, Six Sigma type stuff. A lot of the language you're quoting from 875 is actually present in one form or another in both bills, and attempts to set a mandate that food should be produced according to standards-driven processes which emphasize predictable, repeatable results, and risk management.

Both you and the op-ed commentators seem to be getting an "oppressive" feel out of this, whereas to me it just reads like clear language.

I'm honestly not sure whether either bill over-reaches or not, or even whether they're good or bad public policy. I just don't know enough about agriculture to have a strong opinion on it one way or the other. I'm mostly fixated on the idea that the conflict here isn't so much about what the bills are trying to do as about the values which shape both their language, and the language of their opposition.

"This bill is bad because Monsanto had a hand in writing it" is just such a classic case of argumentum ad hominem that I think it's probably what got me caring about this in the first place.
Post Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:17 pm
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I am not extremely versed in agro laws either but am quite familiar with the inner workings of congress.

My arguments are coming from that point of view. Republicans are going to balk big time at a new federal agency and "big government" in general. It is a over-worded, complex, far reaching little house bill that has one sided support. The thing is dead dead dead.

S. 510 has across aisle big name support. This is a bill that people should take heed of.

I do not care what lizard person was behind it..what NWO group is funding it. Both bills are agro-lobby bills in there language that is a given. I look at the Senate bill as being more reasonable and as a consumer of only organic local sourced meat I do want the friendliest food safety bill. I have relationships with the farmers I eat I tend to trust them much more than the government.

As far as S. 510 itself NAIS is bad bad news so I am glad to see that is not in S. 510. The overall tone of the the bill is much more about enforcement when a problem is cited as opposed to constant tracking. I am 100% for local farms keeping records and paper work in order for when and if there is a problem. As far as encroachment on Organic standards any federal dictation on feed soil water crop rotation and so on may step on the toes of organic farmers. I would like to see that language tightened up and allowing the farmers quite a bit of leeway.

Last edited by Scottie on Thu Mar 12, 2009 1:05 pm; edited 1 time in total
Post Thu Mar 12, 2009 12:50 pm
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guy who cried about wrestling being real

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Not really relevant to the current thread of conversation but I'll just leave this here...

Post Thu Mar 12, 2009 1:04 pm
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Hahaha. What the fuck does that even mean. They are "yes"?
Post Thu Mar 12, 2009 2:42 pm
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Inedible Condiment

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WeDueThis wrote:
Hahaha. What the fuck does that even mean. They are "yes"?

I assume it means that some poor overworked temp got lazy...
Post Thu Mar 12, 2009 7:46 pm
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blocks of text^2

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Another FactCheck article...



Would a new bill in Congress make my backyard organic garden illegal?
This one keeps hitting my inbox.
Hello friends and fellow citizens,

I just stumbled on some pretty disturbing legislation coming out of the Congress of the United States. The bill is HR 875 and it's labeled as the Food Safety Modernization Act of 2009. At first glance it didn't seem like much. However, there are several, including exposing some pretty scary legislation enclosed in the bill.
In the midst of the financial crisis, it seems that these initiatives are sliding in under the radar. Many people are not even aware of them-
It is imperative that you look into this immediately and with extreme scrutiny as our heath and well-being are threatened!!! If this bill passes, you can say goodbye to organic produce, your Local Farmer’s market and very possibly, the GARDEN IN YOUR OWN BACKYARD!!!!!
Things we are finding in the bill:
* Effectively criminalizes organic farming but doesn't actually use the word organic.
* Effects anyone growing food even if they are not selling it but consuming it.
* Effects anyone producing meat of any kind including wild game.
* Legislation is so broad based that every aspect of growing or producing food can be made illegal. There are no specifics which is bizarre considering how long the legislation is.
* Section 103 is almost entirely about the administrative aspect of the legislation. It will allow the appointing of officials from the factory farming corporations and lobbyists and classify them as experts and allow them to determine and interpret the legislation. Who do you think they are going to side with?
* Section 206 defines what will be considered a food production facility and what will be enforced up all food production facilities. The wording is so broad based that a backyard gardener could be fined and more.
* Section 207 requires that the state's agriculture dept act as the food police and enforce the federal requirements. This takes away the states power and is in violation of the 10th amendment.
The bill is monstrous on level after level - the power it would give to Monsanto, the criminalization of seed banking, the prison terms and confiscatory fines for farmers, the 24 hours GPS tracking of their animals, the easements on their property to allow for warrantless government entry, the stripping away of their property rights, the imposition by the filthy, greedy industrial side of anti-farming international "industrial" standards to independent farms - the only part of our food system that still works, the planned elimination of farmers through all these means.

I encourage you to look into this immediately and help remove this bizarre piece of legislation.


A House bill proposes to split the Food & Drug Administration, creating a separate entity to oversee food safety. It's aimed at food sold in supermarkets and doesn't say anything about organic gardening, pesticides, farmers' markets or that tomato plant in your backyard.
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Talk about Internet hysteria. This bill, H.R. 875, introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.), has sparked chain e-mails, blog postings and other exclamation-point-filled rants (like the one above), claiming that the legislation targets organic farmers, benefits manufacturers of genetically engineered seeds, and threatens to uproot backyard vegetable gardens across the country. It doesn't.

DeLauro introduced H.R. 875, called the Food Safety Modernization Act, on Feb. 4, and it was promptly referred to House committees. There's no indication as to when it may be brought to the floor for consideration, despite what some blog posts maintain. The stated purpose of the bill is “to establish an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services to be known as the 'Food Safety Administration,' " which would oversee food safety and labeling in the U.S., creating a single government entity in charge of preventing food-borne illnesses. DeLauro's press release announcing the legislation, introduced after the peanut butter salmonella outbreak in the U.S., said that “FDA would be split into an agency responsible for food safety (the Food Safety Administration) and another responsible for regulation of drugs and devices. This move creates an agency solely focused on protecting the public through better regulation of the food supply.”

The bill has 41 cosponsors and has been endorsed by major food and consumer safety organizations, including the Center for Science in the Public Interest, Consumer Federation of America, Consumers Union, Food & Water Watch, and The Pew Charitable Trusts. Food & Water Watch is a nonprofit organization that advocates for clean water and safe food and is headed by a woman who used to work for Public Citizen, the consumer group founded by Ralph Nader. It has posted a fact sheet on H.R. 875 on its site, disputing rumors about "food police."

The legislation stipulates that the new FSA (Food Safety Administration) would set safety regulations for food establishments and "food production facilities" and would be able to inspect such facilities. Its regulations also would pertain to imported foods. The e-mail posted above and others say that the definition of "food production facility" is so broad that it could include backyard gardens. The bill says: "The term 'food production facility' means any farm, ranch, orchard, vineyard, aquaculture facility, or confined animal-feeding operation." It seems quite a stretch to think that anyone's personal vegetable patch would be considered a "farm, ranch or orchard." First Lady Michelle Obama showed no signs of concern last week as she broke ground on a sizable 1,100-foot garden plot on the White House lawn. Organic, of course.

The e-mail above argues that DeLauro's bill "[e]ffectively criminalizes organic farming but doesn't actually use the word organic." We're not sure how exactly a bill would criminalize something it doesn't mention, but the e-mail is correct in that the word "organic" is nowhere to be found. Another Internet posting more alarmingly claims: "Bill will require organic farms to use specific fertilizers and poisonous insect sprays dictated by the newly formed agency to 'make sure there is no danger to the public food supply.' " But the quoted phrase isn't in this bill. Nor is there any mention of chemical versus organic fertilizers or "poisonous insect sprays," or, for that matter, pesticides in general.

The only mention of fertilizers we could find was this, requiring that the FSA create regulations to: "include, with respect to growing, harvesting, sorting, and storage operations, minimum standards related to fertilizer use, nutrients, hygiene, packaging, temperature controls, animal encroachment, and water." The idea that "fertilizer use" would not include organic fertilizers is pure speculation well beyond what the legislation calls for.

Also, organic farming is regulated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, under its "National Organic Program," not the FDA.

And It Gets Even More Hysterical

E-mails and blog postings claim that the agricultural giant Monsanto will benefit greatly from the bill; some say the often-protested company was the main lobbyist, and still others say DeLauro's husband "works for Monsanto." He doesn't.

DeLauro's spouse, Stanley Greenberg, is chairman and CEO of Greenberg-Quinlan Research Inc., a public issues research and polling firm. The company does surveys. And public relations work. Monsanto was one of the firm's clients. Greenberg is a pollster, not a lobbyist or a Monsanto employee, and he just released a memoir on his life as a pollster to five world leaders, including Bill Clinton and Nelson Mandela.

Also, there is nothing in the bill about "GPS tracking" of animals, as the e-mail above states, and not a peep about "seed banking."

Small Farm Concern

Small farmers, however, may well have concerns about this bill. Food & Water Watch's fact sheet acknowledges that there's always a worry that government regulation of food production will adversely affect small farms, which can't absorb the possible costs of abiding by regulation as easily as big food producers can. "The dilemma of how to regulate food safety in a way that prevents problems caused by industrialized agriculture but doesn’t wipe out small diversified farms is not new and is not easily solved," the site says. It goes on to say that other bills, not H.R. 875, that have been introduced could create problems for small operations, such as one that requires electronic record-keeping and registration fees with the FDA.

Another group called the Farm-to-Consumer Legal Defense Fund, which supports "sustainable farming and direct farm-to-consumer transactions," raises several concerns about DeLauro's legislation and how it could affect small farms and in particular, producers of raw milk, which the FDA has declared to be unfit for consumption. But the group states that "much of what has circulated the internet is not accurate," and nowhere in its criticism of the legislation does it say organic farming would be outlawed or home gardeners would face regulations.

We suppose in the grand realm of all that's possible, or more likely a futuristic B movie, federal bureaucrats could decide that public safety calls for inspections of every backyard garden in the nation, leading everyday citizens to surreptitiously cultivate tomato plants in a closet with a sunlamp, lest they get busted by the cops. But we kinda doubt it.

– by Lori Robertson

Full disclosure: The author has an organic vegetable garden.

Here's that Food & Water Watch fact sheet mentioned in the article:


Background on H.R. 875
by Elissar Khalek — last modified 2009-03-31 17:38

The dilemma of how to regulate food safety in a way that prevents problems caused by industrialized agriculture but doesn’t wipe out small diversified farms is not new and is not easily solved. And as almost constant food safety problems reveals the dirty truth about the way much of our food is produced, processed, and distributed, it’s a dilemma we need to have serious discussion about.

Most consumers never thought they had to worry about peanut butter and this latest food safety scandal has captured public attention for good reason – a CEO who knowingly shipped contaminated food, a plant with holes in the roof and serious pest problems, and years of state and federal regulators failing to intervene.

It’s no surprise that Congress is under pressure to act and multiple food safety bills have been introduced.

Two of the bills are about traceability for food (S.425 and H.R. 814). These present real issues for small producers who could be forced to bear the cost of expensive tracking technology and recordkeeping.

The other bills address what FDA can do to regulate food.

A lot of attention has been focused on a bill introduced by Rep. Rosa DeLauro (H.R. 875), the Food Safety Modernization Act. And a lot of what is being said about the bill is misleading.

Here are a few things that H.R. 875 DOES do:


It addresses the most critical flaw in the structure of FDA by splitting it into 2 new agencies –one devoted to food safety and the other devoted to drugs and medical devices.

It increases inspection of food processing plants, basing the frequency of inspection on the risk of the product being produced – but it does NOT make plants pay any registration fees or user fees.

It does extend food safety agency authority to food production on farms, requiring farms to write a food safety plan and consider the critical points on that farm where food safety problems are likely to occur.

It requires imported food to meet the same standards as food produced in the U.S.

And just as importantly, here are a few things that H.R. 875 does NOT do:


It does not cover foods regulated by the USDA (beef, pork, poultry, lamb, catfish.)

It does not establish a mandatory animal identification system.

It does not regulate backyard gardens.

It does not regulate seed.

It does not call for new regulations for farmers markets or direct marketing arrangements.

It does not apply to food that does not enter interstate commerce (food that is sold across state lines).

It does not mandate any specific type of traceability for FDA-regulated foods (the bill does instruct a new food safety agency to improve traceability of foods, but specifically says that recordkeeping can be done electronically or on paper).

Several of the things not found in the DeLauro can be found in other bills – like H.R. 814, the Tracing and Recalling Agricultural Contamination Everywhere Act, which calls for a mandatory animal identification system, or H.R. 759, the Food And Drug Administration Globalization Act, which overhauls the entire structure of FDA. H.R. 759 is more likely to move through Congress than H.R. 875. And H.R. 759 contains several provisions that could cause problems for small farms and food processors:


It extends traceability recordkeeping requirements that currently apply only to food processors to farms and restaurants – and requires that recordkeeping be done electronically.

It calls for standard lot numbers to be used in food production.

It requires food processing plants to pay a registration fee to FDA to fund the agency’s inspection efforts.

It instructs FDA to establish production standards for fruits and vegetables and to establish Good Agricultural Practices for produce.

There is plenty of evidence that one-size-fits-all regulation only tends to work for one size of agriculture – the largest industrialized operations. That’s why it is important to let members of Congress know how food safety proposals will impact the conservation, organic, and sustainable practices that make diversified, organic, and direct market producers different from agribusiness. And the work doesn’t stop there – if Congress passes any of these bills, the FDA will have to develop rules and regulations to implement the law, a process that we can’t afford to ignore.

But simply shooting down any attempt to fix our broken food safety system is not an approach that works for consumers, who are faced with a food supply that is putting them at risk and regulators who lack the authority to do much about it.
Post Wed Apr 01, 2009 8:30 am
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prolific memorie

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The monsanto in my city closed due to pending suits and loss of revenue. Then suddenly,within a matter of days the facility reopened in the name of Solutia.Hmmn.... I wonder how that happened?

Last edited by prolific memorie on Thu Apr 23, 2009 11:58 am; edited 1 time in total
Post Mon Apr 20, 2009 1:49 am
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The gospel of high-tech genetically modified (GM) crops is not sounding quite so sweet in the land of the converted. A new pest, the evil pigweed, is hitting headlines and chomping its way across Sun Belt states, threatening to transform cotton and soybean plots into weed battlefields.

In late 2004, “superweeds” that resisted Monsanto’s iconic “Roundup” herbicide, popped up in GM crops in the county of Macon, Georgia. Monsanto, the US multinational biotech corporation, is the world’s leading producer of Roundup, as well as genetically engineered seeds. Company figures show that nine out of 10 US farmers produce Roundup Ready seeds for their soybean crops.

Superweeds have since alarmingly appeared in other parts of Georgia, as well as South Carolina, North Carolina, Arkansas, Tennessee, Kentucky and Missouri, according to media reports. Roundup contains the active ingredient glyphosate, which is the most used herbicide in the USA.

GM protesters demonstrate near the French town of Toulouse in March 2008.
How has this happened? Farmers over-relied on Monsanto’s revolutionary and controversial combination of a single “round up” herbicide and a high-tech seed with a built-in resistance to glyphosate, scientists say.

Today, 100,000 acres in Georgia are severely infested with pigweed and 29 counties have now confirmed resistance to glyphosate, according to weed specialist Stanley Culpepper from the University of Georgia.

“Farmers are taking this threat very seriously. It took us two years to make them understand how serious it was. But once they understood, they started taking a very aggressive approach to the weed,” Culpepper told FRANCE 24.

“Just to illustrate how aggressive we are, last year we hand-weeded 45% of our severely infested fields,” said Culpepper, adding that the fight involved “spending a lot of money.”

In 2007, 10,000 acres of land were abandoned in Macon country, the epicentre of the superweed explosion, North Carolina State University’s Alan York told local media.

The perfect weed

Had Monsanto wanted to design a deadlier weed, they probably could not have done better. Resistant pigweed is the most feared superweed, alongside horseweed, ragweed and waterhemp.

“Palmer pigweed is the one pest you don’t want, it is so dominating,” says Culpepper. Pigweed can produce 10,000 seeds at a time, is drought-resistant, and has very diverse genetics. It can grow to three metres high and easily smother young cotton plants.

Today, farmers are struggling to find an effective herbicide they can safely use over cotton plants.

Controversial solutions

In an interview with FRANCE 24, Monsanto’s technical development manager, Rick Cole, said he believed superweeds were manageable. “The problem of weeds that have developed a resistance to Roundup crops is real and [Monsanto] doesn’t deny that, however the problem is manageable,” he said.

Cole encourages farmers to alternate crops and use different makes of herbicides.

Indeed, according to Monsanto press releases, company sales representatives are encouraging farmers to mix glyphosate and older herbicides such as 2,4-D, a herbicide which was banned in Sweden, Denmark and Norway over its links to cancer, reproductive harm and mental impairment. 2,4-D is also well-known for being a component of Agent Orange, a toxic herbicide which was used in chemical warfare in Vietnam in the 1960s.

FRANCE 24 report: French scientist Eric Seralini says research shows Roundup herbicide is highly toxic to human beings.

Questioned on the environmental impact and toxicity of such mixtures, Monsanto’s public affairs director, Janice Person, said that “they didn’t recommend any mixtures that were not approved by the EPA,” she said, referring to the US federal Environmental Protection Agency.

According to the UK-based Soil Association, which campaigns for and certifies organic food, Monsanto was well aware of the risk of superweeds as early as 2001 and took out a patent on mixtures of glyphosate and herbicide targeting glyphosate-resistant weeds.

“The patent will enable the company to profit from a problem that its products had created in the first place,” says a 2002 Soil Association report.

Returning to conventional crops

In the face of the weed explosion in cotton and soybean crops, some farmers are even considering moving back to non-GM seeds. “It’s good for us to go back, people have overdone the Roundup seeds,” Alan Rowland, a soybean seed producer based in Dudley, Missouri, told FRANCE 24. He used to sell 80% Monsanto “Roundup Ready” soybeans and now has gone back to traditional crops, in a market overwhelmingly dominated by Monsanto.

According to a number of agricultural specialists, farmers are considering moving back to conventional crops. But it’s all down to economics, they say. GM crops are becoming expensive, growers say.

While farmers and specialists are reluctant to blame Monsanto, Rowland says he’s started to “see people rebelling against the higher costs.”
Post Wed Apr 22, 2009 9:21 pm
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I actually almost took a c level job with monsanto (technically a division that i didn't realize was owned by monsanto).

the way they have inserted themselves in the full spectrum of agriculture and food production, providing the coated seeds that deplete the soil, the fertilizer, teh pesticides, etc is fascinating. one of the few cases where a corporation fairly openly makes the problem and solves the problem over and over.

i passed on the job-especially that agent orange part.
Post Wed Apr 22, 2009 10:05 pm
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